I don’t mind saying I’m a City League honk. I can’t help it. It goes back to my roots here at The Eagle, when I broke in covering high school sports, heavy on the City League. I was unbiased then; but now I’m not hesitant to express my feelings.
And City League basketball, especially, has a place in my heart. My father took me to triple-headers at the Roundhouse during the 1960s and early 1970s, at a time when the league was flourishing. Come to think of it, when hasn’t the CL flourished.
I was dismayed this morning when I read Joanna Chadwick’s piece about the adoption of a running clock during the fourth quarter of games in which a team leads by 30 or more points. In the piece, she quoted Heights girls coach Kip Pulliam, whose program is one of the best in the state, and West coach Sandy Nixon, whose program isn’t.
It’s not hard to determine which of those two coaches was in favor of a running clock and which coach wasn’t.
Well, I’m not in favor. I’m adamantly against a running clock in any quarter of any game regardless of the score. What does this teach? And isn’t high school athletics at least partially about education.
A running clock isn’t good sportsmanship. It symbolizes surrender. It tells young athletes that in the face of adversity, just hurry up and get it over with. Accept your fate. And move on.
I can’t help but think this is a rule designed specifically to help the girls teams in the City League who often are on the wrong end of blowout games to Heights and, sometimes, Bishop Carroll. The City League girls race often boils down to a chase between those two teams and there’s no question that teams like West suffer.
So, make it a running clock a rule for girls games only. Not ideal, but at least it addresses the problem the rule is designed to address. Why bring the boys on board with this weak rule?
Imagine the embarrassment when a boys City League team has to endure a running clock in the fourth quarter. Imagine the ribbing from players on the other team. Imagine, basically, quitting, which is really what a running clock symbolizes.
If league officials are concerned that blowout losses result in some kind of emotional harm, why play the fourth quarter in the first place?
I haven’t had a chance to talk to any of the City League boys coaches about the adoption of the running clock, but I’m guessing that to a man they’re against it. It’s a fluffy, soft rule designed to protect the weak. And nobody – whether down by 30 points or not – wants to admit they’re weak.
* I was thrilled to see “USA Today’s” cover photo of St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford in today’s edition.BradfordLove Bradford. Starting to love the Rams, although I’m going slow. I’m on about a third date with the Rams and there hasn’t been any hanky-panky yet. It’s better to be cautious.
But I do like 6-6 for a team that had won six of its previous 48 games going into this season. And I’ll give a nice chunk of the credit to Bradford, who has steadily improved as the 2010 season has gone on. I think Bradford can be a big NFL star and it’s impressive to me that, as a rookie, he’s been able to lift his team.
Bradford has passed for 17 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions. He is averaging just more than 221 passing yards per game. Those aren’t Hall of Fame numbers, but they’re outstanding for a rookie who inherited a bad team.
When the NFL draft was held in April, I thought the Rams should have taken Nebraska nose tackle Ndamukong Suh with the first pick and waited until the top of the second round to take a quarterback. Someone like Colt McCoy or Jimmy Clausen.
I was wrong.
I love the Bradford pick now and I didn’t hate it then. I always thought he was going to be a big deal. And the Rams used their second-round pick to take offensive tackle Rodger Saffold out of Indiana. Saffold has moved into the all-important left tackle position and has given up only two sacks. He’s a keeper, too.
The Rams play at New Orleans on Sunday. And I’m just crazy enough to think they’ll put up a decent fight against the Super Bowl champs.
Kevin Hall I Jr. I OutfielderHallI don’t think it’s unrealistic to think Hall is one of the wild cards for Wichita State’s baseball team in 2011. After making a big splash during the late part of the 2008 season, when he was a freshman, Hall has fallen on tough times. He missed most of the 2009 season because of an injury and was red-shirted. And last year, while playing in 56 games, hall batted only .243 with an on-base percentage of .303. Those are not the numbers he wants. Hall did steal 20 bases last season, but it makes you wonder how much damage he could do on the bases if he reached them more often.
“I really think this is going to be my breakthrough year,” Hall said. “I’ve had a lot of experiences now, through all the springs and summer ball. I’ve been at high points and I’ve been at low points. So now I know how to handle each. Staying on an even keel is going to be a lot easier for me than it has been in the past.”
Here’s more from our conversation:
Q: So, you’re obsessed with the “USA Today” crossword puzzle?
A: Yes, every morning. I think it might be (ex-Shocker) Clinton McKeever who got me started. Me and him had some classes together. I don’t know if I saw him doing it one day, but I just got hooked. Then it became a competition between the two of us to see who had finished it or who had gotten the most done. Consistently, he did better than I did but he’s got the age factor on me. It’s not an easy puzzle. I would say it’s pretty comparable to the “New York Times” crossword.
Q: Which is your favorite MLB team?
A: The Atlanta Braves. I grew up watching them on TBS and they were always winning. I pitched in high school (in Springfield, Ill.), so (Greg) Maddux and (Tom) Glavine were at the top of the pedestal for me. I pitched all the way through the summer after my senior year, right up until I got to college.
Q: What’s your favorite part of a Wichita State practice?
A: Probably batting practice, but not when I’m hitting. It’s when I’m out in center field. I get to stand out there and the pitchers kind of fade away from that spot and give me the space to work. So it’s just me tracking down balls, which is what I love to do.